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Weekend Link Roundup (June 16-17, 2012)

June 17, 2012

Fenton_data_pyramid2Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a lengthy post on the Fenton blog, Leslie Lipsick shares six tips for nonprofits looking to turn their data into stories. Her terrific suggestions are summed up nicely in the data pyramid to the right.

On her Non-Profit Marketing Blog, Katya Andresen highlights some of the key findings of the 2012 Millennial Impact Report, a survey of more than 6,500 people between the ages of 20 and 35:

  • Millennials give for emotional reasons and like to "give in the moment."
  • 75 percent said they made a cash gift in 2011.
  • 70 percent said they had fundraised for their favorite causes.
  • 67 percent have interacted with nonprofits on Facebook and 92 percent have “liked” a nonprofit’s Facebook page, while only 28 percent had interacted with a nonprofit on Twitter.
  • 39 percent of those who gave in 2011 did so in response to an in-person request, while only 7 percent said they gave via text message or through a mobile site.
  • More than 40 percent said they plan to volunteer more in 2012.


Writing on the Huffington Post, management consultant David La Piana says that "great things are possible when nonprofits can put their own organizational concerns aside and join forces to achieve a big idea." We couldn't agree more.

In a video interview ("Philanthropy Debate: Investing's Most Important Evolution?") on the Euromoney site, the Rockefeller Foundation's Margot Brandenburg argues that what the field needs in terms of infrastructure to support the growth of impact investing is reporting standards for non-financial as well as financial performance, networks of investors and service providers willing to share lessons learned, and continual innovation. You can read the entire interview here and find interviews with other impact investing thought leaders here.


After posting a brain dump earlier in the week about how data can change philanthropy, Lucy Bernholz follows up on her Philanthropy 2173 blog with a thought-provoking post about half- and full-step practice changes with the potential to reshape the field. Writes Bernholz:

If foundations really valued data as an output, they'd rewrite their grant agreements and contracting language. Creative Commons or other public re-use licensing would be the norm not the exception. Sharing data sets produced by philanthropic dollars (in machines readable form) would be standard practice (as would be the real-time publishing of grants data). Foundations would promote, experiment with, and build communities around their data and their grantees data -- they would structure their grants to produce and release data for others -- designing the grants from the beginning for the multiplying effect of the data products (and the open source tools to make sense of the data)....

Highly recommended (as are the comments that follow the post).

In response to the fourth installment of Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan's six-part series on the slow but steady intrusion of for-profit thinking and concepts into the nonprofit sector, Greater New Orleans Foundation president Albert Ruesga writes that "it's easy to see why we look to the for-profit world for our models.

The work of philanthropy is often framed as a social mini-max problem: We are in situation X facing social problem Y. We are given $Z to (a) solve this problem in the least amount of time, using the fewest resources; or (b) maximize the benefit to low-income communities; or perhaps (c) most fully satisfy the ego-needs of our CEO. This framing leads us to conclude that philanthropy is essentially about spending money to create a product or service. So we run into the arms of the nearest MBA, and while in that tender embrace are bidden to "allocate resources on a dynamic basis," "foster partnerships," "develop innovative approaches to evaluation," and do other things couched in toothless bromides we tearfully accept because we have it on good authority that this splooge will finally fill the Great Gnawing Void in our professional lives....

In a guest post on the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation blog, Nina Stack, president of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, speaks out against the tendency of grantmakers to award "project-only funding" -- which usually means "no money for rent, electric bills, audits, or key staff implementing the core mission activities that may not be directly involved with the special project. It also means no support for exploration or innovation." So how much of a nonprofit's budget should be spent on management, general operations, and fundraising? "The truth," writes Stack, "is that it depends on the organization. Regardless of what anyone will tell you, there is no set guide or percentage. There can't possibly be...."

Social Media

Social Media for Social Good author Heather Mansfield lists five new enhancements to the Facebook site that could benefit your nonprofit.

In a guest post on Beth Kanter's blog, Taryn Degnan, manager of social media and online community at CommonSense Media, outlines the "seven ways your organization can put privacy into practice." In tracking, profiling, and marketing to your organization's supporters and Web site visitors, writes Degnan writes, you need to "create an environment of trust around the information [you] collect and be crystal clear" about how that information is being used. Degnan then shares her seven basic privacy principles:

  • No surprises. Constituents have every right to know when you're collecting their data. Be specific about your purpose for gathering it, and only keep the data for as long as you will need it to serve that purpose.
  • Real choices. The industry standard for privacy should be opt-in -- especially for kids. Promote accountability by giving your constituents and Web site visitors the opportunity to make informed choices, and ask for their active participation in keeping your records up to date.
  • Limited data. Collect only what you need. The Web is a "shared public resource to be cared for, not a commodity to be sold." Use non-personally identifying forms whenever possible.
  • User control. Do not disclose your constituents' and Web site visitors' personal information without their consent. It's easy to post an off-the-cuff, friendly Facebook post about a donor or volunteer, but make sure it's okay with them first.
  • Trusted third parties. When it comes to selecting service providers and partners for projects and collaborations, make sure they are just as committed to privacy as you are.
  • Privacy across the board. Does your organization have a mobile app? A blog? A YouTube channel? Make sure your privacy principles apply across all platforms, both on your own hosted sites and elsewhere.
  • Security. From restricting wireless access points to encrypting data on your organization’s portable laptops, keeping a secure environment is an integral part of preventing data leakage and upholding your constituents' trust.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- The Editors

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